There are few well known religions in China such as Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. The belief in Oneness of God was there before the existence of religion in Chinese society. Chinese community believe the existence of one God which is Shang Di before the arise of Confucianism and Taoism philosophy. The Chinese historian, Sima Qian wrote in his book entitled Shi Ji state:
“Shang Di is another name for Tian. The spirits do not have two Lords” (1)
Shang Di (上帝) or Tian (天) is the name of a God in Chinese community believed since a long time ago. It does not have any image, picture or statue in a form of idols. Furthermore, it is an entity that is not the same as human beings.
Chinese community understand it through characters of letters such as hanzi 上帝 and 天. Tian (天) symbolised the concept monotheism, due to the Chinese word character of hanzi for Tian (天) is a combination of two Hanzi characters which are Da (大) dan Yi ( 一). Da means the All-Mighty while Yi means Oneness. Two letters is formed for Tian which means the Sky and Heaven. It indicates the God is at the sky.
That is the reason why the ancient Chinese community worship one God and around the year 2000 BC – 800 BC, the doctrine of Shamanism and fortune teller was developed in China. Then the believes was influenced by the Taoism religion which came later on such as the usage of talisman and mantra to fight against the supernatural and binding spells in order to cure the one affected. But the earliest Taoism belief do not teach these particularly rituals. (2)
It is recorded in history that the ancient Chinese community worship one God that does not have an image nor given birth to but later on the practiced of worshipping Gods and Goddesses were added on into Taoism. Even though, the founder himself did not introduce this way of worship. It was created by the people later on.
Lastly, Chinese community consider that all religion that exist till the classic era is important and is practiced synchronously.
1. Refer to Sima Qian (-). Shi Ji, volume 28, book 6, pg 624
2. Refer to Eva Wong, (2011). Taoism An Essential Guide, Shambhala Publications, London, pg 11-19
3. Ibid, pg 20-30/ refer to Cao Dawei & Sun Yanjing, (2010). China’s History, China Intercontinental Press, Beijing, pg 44-45
4. Refer to the scriptures of Dao Te Ching chapter 4: Xiang Di Zhi Xian, chapter 25: Dao De Zhen Mian Mu, chapter 39: Dao De Gen Ben. And refer to scriptures of Kongfu zi dalam The Anaclets 3: 13, 9: 5, 16: 8, 14: 35
5. Refer to Milon Nandy, (1996). The Profund Teachings of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism & Shintoism, Eurasia-Pasific Books, Ampang, pg 34
6. Refer to Eva Wong, (2011). Taoism An Essential Guide, Shambhala Publications, London, pg 34
7. Refer to Herman, J. (2013). Taoism For Dummies. Mississauga, Canada: John Wiley & Sons Canada pg 75/ refer to Palmer, M. (2000). T’ung Shu. Kuala Lumpur: Vinpress, pg 82.
8. Refer to Eva Wong, (2011). Taoism An Essential Guide, Shambhala Publications, London, pg 34
9. Refer to Palmer, M. (2000). T’ung Shu. Kuala Lumpur: Vinpress, pg 82
10. Refer to Milon Nandy, (1996). The Profund Teachings of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism & Shintoism, Eurasia-Pasific Books, Ampang, pg 59
MRM R&D Team